For the first time since early January, North Carolina has climbed back onto the basic champ list. Now nine teams meet the criteria that the last 13 champs have possessed:
- A one, two or three seed
- Member of a Power conference: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 or SEC
- Either went to the previous year’s dance or have an All-American
- Led by a coach with more than five tourney trips and at least one Elite Eight run
- Averaging more than 73 points per game
- Allowing fewer than 73 points per game
- An average scoring margin of at least seven points per game
- A schedule among the 75 strongest in the country
The teams that meet all these criteria include: Arizona, Kansas, Duke, Villanova, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky, Michigan State and newcomer North Carolina. Louisville fell short again of making the grade because of its weak SOS (96)—but there’s good news coming on the possession-based side of the tests. Here’s the legend…and then the breakdown:
- Light red boxes show where teams missed the criteria
- Orange boxes show teams meeting all criteria
- Dark blue tabs on the right show teams meeting KenPom ranking criteria
- The dark red box indicates the team meeting KenPom raw efficiency criteria
- The light purple boxes in the second column show teams whose KenPom ranking suggests that they don’t deserve their AP top 20 rating
Of the nine teams meeting the basic champ criteria, six are in serious danger of losing their credentials by Selection Sunday. Arizona (73.4 ppg) and Wisconsin (73.5 ppg) could easily fall short of the 73-point threshold. And Michigan, Kentucky, Michigan State and North Carolina could fall by the wayside by failing to garner a top-three seed.
The two possession-based champ checks saw changes this week as well. The biggest change came in the test comparing offensive and defensive efficiency rankings with past champs. Since Pomeroy started posting efficiency stats 10 years ago, every champion has ranked at least 17th and 25th in offensive and defensive efficiency, respectively. Last week, Syracuse, Florida, Kansas, Villanova and Louisville made the grade. This week, you can scratch Syracuse (#20 in OE) and Kansas (#27 in DE) off the list, but add Wichita State (#16 OE, #13 DE).
In terms of raw efficiency numbers, there has also been an important change. Every champion for the last decade has scored at least 115.1 and given up no more than 92.2 points per 100 possessions. Last week, only Florida met both criteria. This week, however, the Gators’ DE has slipped to 92.8/100 possessions. Meanwhile, Louisville boosted its offensive efficiency to 116.0/100 possessions and now owns the distinction of being the only squad to meet raw efficiency champ requirements. That’s why Louisville is emblazoned in red on the chart.
Final observation: KenPom stats say that Cincinnati, San Diego State and Iowa State don’t deserve their lofty position in the AP ratings. Efficiency numbers like Ohio State, UCLA and Pittsburgh better.